Cheap cards might not break the bank to replace, but suppose someone has give you a nice, decorative, boxed set of cards. There are lots around, and these can cost anything from around $15 (£12). Still not a huge amount, but you wouldn’t want to keep paying to replace them and the gift might hold sentimental value as well.
You want to look after your cards properly so you can enjoy using them but give them the maximum life possible before having to replace them.
There are very simple ways of doing this.
First, make sure your hands are clean before handling the cards. Sticky children’s fingers (and sticky adult fingers) will quickly stop the cards from fanning out and make dealing and shuffling difficult. If you are a bridge player and are playing with friends, maybe hand round a packet of wet wipes after that all important break for tea and cakes.
Secondly, make sure you are careful when you place the cards back in their box at the end of a game. It only takes a few seconds to tap the cards gently back into place so they form a uniform stack with no stray cards poking out edges or corners. If you don’t do this and stuff an uneven deck of cards back in their box you will quickly damage the edges and corners, which again will make dealing and fanning the cards difficult.
Thirdly, try to keep your cards away from a damp atmosphere. Storing them in a damp cupboard, on a windowsill prone to condensation or in a damp cellar will cause them to warp and discolour, making them unplayable.
Fourthly, if cards do become sticky because sticky fingers handled them, try cleaning them gently with a damp cloth that has been wrung out. This will remove any stick residue from sweets or cakes.
Fifthly, something I’d not come across until I started researching this article, but I think I will be buying some. Fanning powder. Available for just a few pounds or dollars on a well known site named after a South American river. You apply a small amount of the power to the surface of the cards and this helps them to fan out and deal much more easily.
This will reduce rough handling if players are having difficulty with fanning out sticky cards. It will also help players with reduced dexterity by making it easier to sort and handle their cards.
I did see it suggested that a small amount of talcum powder might have a similar effect. I think I’m going to try that one, too.
Sixthly. Handle your cards with care when they are in their boxes. Throwing them in a cupboard, dropping them on the floor, or wedging them at an angle between other heavy objects will damage the box and put pressure on the cards, causing them to distort.
Looking after your cards only takes a little care, but will pay dividends in lower replacement costs.